I have been mulling over this song for the past couple of days to figure out how I feel about it. Usually, with most songs, I can get a pretty good idea of how I feel about it within the first two plays, and then I play it more to be able to bring in details of the song to my reviews. However, I had a hard time with this one for some reason, and this will be my best attempt to answer why that was the case.
After a comeback this past February with the mixed-reviewed “Overcome,” I have been waiting incessantly for NU’EST’s latest comeback. This time, rather than dropping the music video practically out of nowhere, NU’EST’s promotion team really took some time to hype up this comeback with “art films” of the members, as well as a highlight medley for their fifth mini-album Canvas. It teased at a comeback that stood as a continuation of “Overcome,” with the references to a box, the compass/amulet that was given to the boys, et cetera. What was advertised wasn’t exactly what we got, but I think that on its own “Love Paint” is not too bad.
Upon the first listen, the song isn’t going to stand out much. Much of its sound seems to ebb along like a river – it flows but it never goes crazy, even in the chorus. The instrumental is a subtle take on the eighties with its bright synths. However, as I listened more to the song I realized this gives off more of a “Tumblr” vibe, but with the sugary flare only Kpop can provide. One of the best things that the song does is set a mood using the synths as the main draw and the vocals ebbing and flowing with the rest of the song, but never overpowering it. They’ve even added some orchestra elements along with the synths to give the song more drama than it would have had on its own.
However, that isn’t to say that there are some drawbacks. Because it doesn’t hit immediately, it’s one of those songs that could be easily forgettable to the casual listener. This is because, despite its lush instrumental, it doesn’t have a proper hook in the song. It’s not going to be one of those songs that brings in new listeners to the group, which could be a problem if NU’EST wants to break any new ground. The other problem is that the rap verses towards the bridge feel shoehorned into the structure for the song rather than organically produced. This is strange considering NU’EST usually has songs that can integrate this effectively. I get that this is probably Pledis Entertainment’s way to give JR a part considering he doesn’t have vocals to back him up in the same way that Aron does, but it comes off as a waste considering he isn’t a bad rapper and one of my favorite members in the group.
The music video similarly takes up the aesthetic vibes as well. From Ren’s scenes being showered in pink, to Baekho using a more blue and purple palette, the video is a dream to look at. Many of the shots are your general individual shots that many groups use, but the way they zoom in, turn, and pan out gives us more to look at than we would usually. Unfortunately, the dance points in the song feel strange due to how dark and out-of-place they feel in a video meant to showcase color and mood more than anything else.
One last thing that I’d like to point out is the nods to NU’EST’s previous comebacks in. The compass and chest on the table are meant to represent “Overcome” while the flowers on the walls are a direct reference from “Sleep Talking,” and the lighting of that firework/smoke stick by the gas station and phone booth are also references to “Good Bye Bye” and “Hello,” which is a nice touch for fans who have been with NU’EST since the beginning.
Overall, I thought that this was a sweet addition to NU’EST’s repertoire. It’s so nice to see them back and I am so glad that there was a lot of effort in both the production of this song and music video to make it as pleasing as it is. However, I feel like this is the kind of song I’d play in the background before I go to sleep or during a chill night rather than every single day. Which is totally fine by me.